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judgment, if only because it tends to reveal the intricate
cross-currents and qualifying circumstances*

Let us take the case of the massacre of St. Bartholomew
and imagine that we have traversed the whole range of
accompanying facts and conditioning circumstances.
Let us say that we have assembled around Catherine de'
Medici everything that may have reference to the
affair—all that we can discover of her predicament at the
time, of preceding events, of her own constitution and
structure, of her views, her intentions and motives, as
well as all that we can discover of the range of options
which was open to her at the decisive moment. Assisted
by all this material and by all the humanity we possess,
we are now called to resurrect the whole occasion and
to see with Catherine, feel with her, hold our breath
with her, and meet the future with all her apprehensions.
If by imaginative sympathy we can put ourselves in her
place in this way, not only envisaging the situation in all
its detail but apprehending it in all its vividness and
intensity until we reach the point at which we could
almost conceive ourselves making the drastic decision,
or at least have a sense of just what it would take to carry
us across the border to such a decision—then we are
historians indeed. In such a case it is in our power to
add something to human understanding, though such a
contribution would certainly not come in the form of
moral judgments. On the other hand, if we cannot
achieve this sort of thing at all, if we cannot bring our
imagination to such an endeavour, we are in no state to
give the measure of a moral judgment either. Nor does
it help matters if we pretend to assert: " We cannot